Stainless steel can usually be cleaned using warm water, states About.com. Tougher dirt sometimes requires a mild detergent. Glass cleaner works on fingerprints, while stainless steel cleaner is generally recommended for scratched or stained surfaces. Stainless steel should only be cleaned when it's cool to the touch, notes Bob Vila.
Because some stainless steel items are treated with a clear-coat finish that can be damaged by certain cleaners, it's important to carefully follow the manufacturer's cleaning directions, notes Bob Vila. Testing cleaners in an inconspicuous area is also recommended. A microfiber cloth is the best choice for cleaning stainless steel because it absorbs water well and does not scratch the surface, states About.com. It's best to wipe the cloth in the direction of the stainless steel grain, beginning at the top and moving toward the floor, according to Bob Vila. Thoroughly rinsing and drying the surface is advised to avoid water spots and stains.
Chlorine bleach and products containing chloride are not recommended for cleaning stainless steel, notes Bob Vila. Other products to avoid include oven cleaners, abrasive cleaners and gritty, dirty or extremely hard water. Steel wool, steel brushes and very abrasive scrubbing pads can scratch a stainless steel surface and should not be used.